bird activity

Sightings: 7/30/19

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

On this trip we headed straight out west in some windy weather. We found two humpback whales in the shipping lane between buoys 5 and 3.

The whales were feeding in 38 feet of water. We saw several lunge feeds from these animals.

The fishing fleet was in the area and we saw some large ships pass by us. We did not see fluke dives from these animals.

One of the whales was closer than the other and stayed in pretty much the same area for 45 minutes. After we found the whale, we floated in neutral the whole time. We did not need to change gears to approach, since the whale was staying within 150 yards of us for the entire trip.

We also saw some porpoises and bird activity in the area.

Sightings: 7/21/19

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat.

9am:

On our first trip of the day we had fog relatively high off the water and pretty good sea conditions. We had reports of whales northwest of the shipping lane, so we headed that way.

We found two humpbacks there in 80 feet of water.

We saw some fluke dives from these animals, who stayed close to each other the whole time they were feeding. At one point one of them did a full body roll. They appeared to be pushing the fish in between them.

Over the course of the trip the whales moved over a mile west.

There were fishing boats around us, as well as lots of birds and porpoises. We also saw some more spouts in the distance.

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12pm:

On our next trip we found whales in the same spot. There were still lots of fishing boats in the area. Sea conditions had improved from the morning trip.

We found six humpback whales in this area, all feeding in 84 feet of water. We saw some fluke dives from these animals as well.

Some large ships passed by us while we observed the whales. We stayed with them for about 40 minutes. We also spotted some common murre fathers with their chicks.

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3pm:

By our afternoon trip the conditions were beautiful. It was sunny and glassy calm out in the shipping lane, where we first found one humpback whale close to our boat. Additional spouts were off in the distance.

The first whale spouted 150 yards from us. We stopped the boat, floated in neutral and were surprised to see the whale pop up 10 yards from the boat and fluke dive.

The whale surfaced again farther from the boat, just as a ship was passing.

After that whale was 300 yards away from us, we continued out towards a group of 3-4 humpbacks that were near the pilot boat.

These whales were surfacing in synchrony.

There were lots of birds hovering around them, indicating that they were feeding.

We saw several lunge feeds from these animals. The highlight was a quadruple lunge feed where all four whales came up at once.

We got lots of fluke dives from these animals, but none of them are currently in our catalog.

The whales were slowly moving west. We were able to spend about 45 minutes with them before we had to head back to the dock.

Sightings: 7/19/19

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day, we found one humpback feeding among the fishing fleet. There were both inboard and outboard motorboats, along with some ships passing by in the shipping lane. The whale was there for the same reason as the fisherman: to get food.

We also saw birds hovering and feeding in the area. We didn’t see any fluke dives from this whale, but we had big wind waves that made viewing more difficult.

Passenger Andreas Schremmer captured some great photos of the whale and birds in the area. Many thanks for sending these over!

2pm:

Conditions improved on our 2pm as the southwesterly wind began to die off. We headed out to the end of the shipping lane, turned around to start to head home, and found a humpback whale right in front of us.

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We saw a couple of lunge feeds from this animal within 50 yards of the boat. Birds hovered over the spots where the whale was feeding.

The whale was in 100 feet of water.

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Sightings: 7/14/19

Sighting from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

12pm:

After an extremely foggy morning trip, we found a humpback whale just a couple miles from Point Bonita.

The whale was traveling through about 50 feet of water.

There were big groups of birds and anchovies present, as well as some small fishing boats.

We did see fluke dives from this animal and were able to identify it as #11 in our catalog.

Sightings: 7/12/19

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On this first trip we didn’t have a lot of visibility, although the sea conditions were good. After searching for a while, we finally found a few spouts southwest of the shipping lane, about 14 miles offshore.

The whale was traveling, which made it difficult to locate in the dense fog. There were lots of large ships passing through the lane and the pilot boat was in the distance. The whale was in 124 feet of water.

There wasn’t any bait on the fish finder when we were near the whale, but in other spots we had seen birds carrying anchovies.

On our way back in, we saw three more humpback spouts in the shipping lane with lots of birds around them. We marked the spot to return to it on the next trip.

2pm:

On this trip we headed west through the shipping lane in search of the biological hotspot we had found earlier. We found it slightly southwest of its previous location, but still close to the shipping lane.

In this area we found four humpbacks feeding in only 48 feet of water. We saw tons of bait on the fish finder and lots of birds hovering in the area as well. The whales performed lunge feeds several times.

Big wind waves made viewing somewhat tricky, but we were still able to observe whales coming within 100 yards of the boat. We stayed with these whales for about 30 minutes.

We also spotted a relatively small mola mola (ocean sunfish) in the area.

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Sightings: 6/29/19

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat.

9am:

On our first trip of the day we had calm, sunny conditions. We found whales several miles west of Stinson Beach.

There were about four whales in the area, which was around 110 feet deep.

We saw lots of activity in this area from birds, fishermen, and whales. There were also anchovies on the fish finder. The whales were lunge feeding and gave a few fluke dives.

From one fluke we were able to identify #38 in our catalog.

We stayed with these animals for about 30 minutes.

12pm:

By our next trip, the conditions had deteriorated and we had a lot more wind. We returned to the same spot as earlier and found two humpback whales feeding near some small fishing vessels.

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Sightings Report: June 26, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we found whales west of Muir Beach in the same spot we’d seen them for the past few weeks.

There were five humpbacks feeding in 82 feet of water. One of them was close to us and the other four were farther to the northwest.

We observed some feeding behavior and fluke dives from the animals. Lots of fishing boats were nearby and we saw birds carrying anchovies, but we didn’t see much on the fish finder.

We spent about 30 minutes with these animals before starting to head back. As we headed back we found another humpback feeding on anchovies. We saw a lunge feed and a fluke dive from this animal.

2pm:

On our second trip we returned to the same area, where we found three humpbacks feeding in 55 feet of water.

We did saw some fluke dives from these animals.

There were thick bait balls of anchovies that the whales were herding and feeding on.

There were also lots of birds in the area, including murres carrying anchovies.

Some large ships passed by in the shipping lane. The Salty Lady was observing these whales as well.

Sightings Report: June 25, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On our first trip of the day we found whales several miles off of Muir Beach.

We initially found just one animal, then spotted more whales heading towards us. They were herding the bait and feeding cooperatively.

We had five humpbacks in this area and saw behaviors including tail slapping and lunge feeding.

There were fishing vessels and birds around the whales who were also taking advantage of the anchovies. We were in about 70 feet of water.

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One of the whales we saw on this trip was Gator, a frequent visitor to San Francisco.

2pm:

On our next trip we found humpback whales very close to the spot where we had left them. Two humpbacks were feeding in 47 feet of water.

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We saw fluke dives from these animals. I was able to spot Gator again using the whale’s distinct dorsal fin.

Birds hovered over the whales, indicating that they were feeding. Despite big swell and some wind, we stayed with the whales for about half an hour.

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Sightings Report: June 23, 2019

Sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat

11am:

On this trip we found two traveling humpbacks several miles off of Muir Beach.

They were in about 80 feet of water. We saw a breach and a pectoral fin as the whale rolled on its side.

There was some bird activity, particularly over anchovy bait balls.

We stayed with the whales for about 30 minutes before heading back to port.

2pm:

On the next trip we headed straight west. As we were heading out, we got a report from the Outer Limits that several humpbacks had been seen near buoys 7 and 8. We headed there, but didn’t see anything.

We headed to the northwest and found three feeding humpbacks in the area.

They were lunge feeding, rolling onto their sides, and one was slapping its pectoral fin.

There was bird activity in the area, and we could see bait balls shimmering at the surface.

The whales were in 75 feet of water.

We spent about 35 minutes with these whales, then headed towards the Golden Gate Strait. We were just outside Point Bonita when the captain spotted another humpback whale.

The whale had surfaced just a hundred yards northwest of the lighthouse. We waited a few minutes and were rewarded with a fluke dive from Mercedes Benz - number 12 in our catalog. This whale is a frequent visitor to San Francisco - we’ve seen it every year since 2016.

Sightings Report: March 27, 2019

All sightings from San Francisco Whale Tours vessel Kitty Kat.

8am:

For our first trip of the day we headed west towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We had an outgoing tide and strong southern winds. There were many threatening rainclouds.

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We were just outside the bridge when we saw a spout near the north tower. The tide was sucking us out quickly, so we positioned ourselves inside the bridge to observe the whale. The gray whale was coming up infrequently and staying close to the rocks near the tower.

As we floated, another crew member spotted a whale near Crissy Field. We went towards that whale.

As we floated near Crissy Field, we watched as the rain approached from the ocean. The rain passed over us and eventually it cleared back up beyond the Strait.

11am:

On our second trip we headed back towards the Golden Gate Strait. We spotted a couple of spouts between Baker Beach and the South tower.

We still had an outgoing tide pulling us west, but we were able to float in neutral and have one whale in front of us and one behind us. There was a third whale even farther west.

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A few times the gray whale closest to the bridge approached within 70 yards of us.

There were lots of birds, seals, and porpoises near the bridge as well.

2pm:

On our last trip of the day we found two gray whales between Fort Mason and Crissy Field.

Both animals stayed close to shore.

The tide started to come in, so we positioned ourselves west of the whales and let the current push us alongside them.

We saw several large ships pass by us.

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